Guilds of Ravnica and Agents of Bolas

Lore forum

Posted on Sept. 11, 2018, 9:55 p.m. by Canadion

In an article Mark Rosewater posted, he mentioned that five guilds of Ravnica will be under the influence of Bolas.

"Because five guilds were falling to Bolas and we wanted the two sets leading up to the event set to feel as if things are getting worse on Ravnica, we wanted the first set to have two Bolas-leaning guilds and the second set to have three. That way the progression felt as if Bolas is gaining in power."

So with that, we now that Izzet and Golgari will be the ones under Bolas's control, because of Vraska and Ral Zarek. This leaves Dimir, Boros and Selesnya as part of the Alliance (which, by reading flavour text is very apparent).

And now we have other half of the Guilds: Azorius, Simic, Gruul, Rakdos and Orzhov.

Looking at the currently spoiled cards it is clear that Vraska kills Isperia, which leaves the guild without any guidance. People are highly speculating that Tezzeret will be inserted to manipulate the guild. I like the theory and will support it.

Rakdos is in the colours of Bolas. With Liliana at Bolas's side, I feel like she will play a part in getting the guild under influence.

Orzhov seems to have it's own story going on, with Teysa most likely using Kaya to assassinate the Obzedat. Considering Teysa is pretty good, we can consider this guild to most likely be on the Alliance.

That leaves us with Simic and Gruul as the last two guilds in question. I was doing some deep research into some planeswalkers and I came across Ramaz and it clicked for me. Considering that WotC has brought planeswalkers that were introduced in Duels of the Planeswalkers (Nissa, Kiora, and Ral Zarek) into printed cards and even bigger players in the story, I wouldn't be surprised to see Ramaz make an appearance.

I would place him with Gruul. Gruul is super anti-city/guild, Ramaz is a Shaman and his colour-style was heavily in Green/Red, albeit there was also blue. Gruul is the most likely candidate to fall under the manipulation of Bolas, especially if a certain Shaman was there to help him out.

This also gives Chandra a chance to kick his ass again, considering Ramaz was the one who manipulated her into stealing the Dragon Scroll.

What are your thoughts on this speculation?

Mj3913 says... #2

New Spoiler of a guy suspiciously looking like Ramaz, ripping a scroll... coincidence? Its blue though, and in chinese(?), and I dont know how to link images...

I think your theory is pretty spot on, save for I'm leaning more towards Simic being pro Bolas as Gruul doesn't want to be controlled, regardless, 5 on 5 guilds... but there's the Lynch Pin of Jace/Vraska's missing memories that could offset that balance...

September 11, 2018 10:33 p.m.

RicketyEng says... #3

I came to the same conclusion about the first five guilds.

Your ideas for the next five do sound pretty plausible. It will be interesting to see how that goes.

I'm inclined the think they might try to divide the colours evenly between Bolas and the Alliance. If that were the case then both white guilds, one blue guild, one red guild, one black guild, and one green guild would fall. That would work out to be Azorius, Orzhov, and Gruul. The same set of planeswalkers could still fit.

September 11, 2018 10:48 p.m.

legendofa says... #4

I'm going to argue against Rakdos being under Bolas. Sure, it's got the right colors, but so does Dimir, and they're pretty much confirmed against. The Rakdos are deeply anarchist, and manipulating them seems to be no more effective than showing a cultist something spiky or flammable, then getting out of the way. Despite this, the Rakdos cultists generally don't appear to be stupid or gullibe, and I think they would recognize an attempted takeover, either overt or covert. The Rakdos will be nominally anti-Bolas, but mostly enjoying the carnage.

My guess is the Gruul, because they actively desire and work toward the collapse of the Ravnican society, the Azorius, led by a Bolas-controlled puppet, and the Orzhov, who Kaya may or may not be taking an interest in, will join the Golgari and Izzet under Bolas.

September 11, 2018 11:51 p.m.

dbpunk says... #5

Honestly I think it's gonna be a two guilds of each color for each side, because WOTC tends to like some unity in their sets. So right now, we have really to show for it, but by the end it should be

My guess is it's gonna be Azorius, Orzhov and Gruul to round it out.

Azorius is going to lose their leader soon due to Vraska's Contempt and Bolas' desire to cause chaos through out Ravnica, so my guess is that someone like Dovin Baan or another similar planeswalker can swoop in and take over. Especially since they're the lawkeepers, Nicol Bolas' will probably need to put his puppet in place there before anything else. With them, it becomes , meaning Simic is out of the running since they're the only other available blue guild.

The next guild is probably Orzhov. We already have seen Kaya, Ghost Assassin appear in some art and packaging. She's an assassin most likely hired by Teysa, Orzhov Scion to kill Obzedat, Ghost Council. Which leaves her the perfect opportunity to gain control of the Orzhov and thus cause more chaos by disrupting all trade on Ravnica. So that makes it and also takes Rakdos out of the running, since there aren't really many guilds left.

So now that Rakdos and Simic are out of the way, guess who's left? Gruul. And Gruul is probably the easiest for Nicol Bolas to control. He just sends a guy who can unify them in rampages and they're under his control. And that seals it to be two guilds of each color. Not to mention, they have a planeswalker of their own who might be in Bolas' pocket: Domri Rade.

But... This kind of idea also works from a more logical perspective. Each of the guilds that Bolas grabs a) serves a purpose to destabilizing the city and b) don't rely on some form of loyalty as much as the other guilds.

Golgari: The Golgari Swarm essentially operates on a caste system in both Ravnican culture and within their own guild. Unlike other guilds. And unlike other guilds with caste systems, their caste system is newly in place with the lowest classes being found there just recently. This makes Bolas' promise of power to their guild too good to be true. However, they also have some of the most powerful assassins, which is critical to causing havoc amongst the guilds. Their knowledge of the undercity also allows them to become better spies for Bolas.

Izzet: From what we've learned, Bolas needs tech to bring his varying artifacts and armies to Ravnica to enact his plan. The only guild capable of that is the Izzet. The Izzet also are fairly easy to convince, since their primary concern is the research they're doing, not who it's for.

Azorius: As Isperia is dead, they have a power vacuum, which easily could let Bolas in. As well, Bolas probably realizes that their only interest is enforcing and control of the law, not actually caring what the law is. As long as they enforce it, the law could be anything.

Orzhov: Unlike the Selesnya, the Orzhova church isn't so much a religion as a business. So as long as theyre making money, they don't care who's actually leading it. Also, Bolas knows he needs them to cause havoc and prevent the other guilds from having funding to enact his plans.

Gruul: The Gruul only care that the strongest are leading them. Therefore, as long as Bolas' planeswalker is extremely strong, hell have a fair amount of control. Not only that, but their contempt for Ravnica as a city enables him to easily have them cause the chaos he desires. Especially as the most destructive of all the guilds.

Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk

September 12, 2018 1:14 a.m.

Iehovah says... #6

Last time Bolas took over a plane he manipulated every faction he could, I wouldn't be surprised if he had his claws into every guild. Even Selesnya seems more militaristic/aggressive.

September 12, 2018 1:22 a.m.

dbpunk says... #7

The other part of this is that the guilds Bolas doesn't control aren't necessarily able to suit his purposes the way that the ones I mentioned would, and more than likely aren't as easily controlled.

Bolas already has an army, so both Selesnya and Boros don't make sense for him to control, and they don't allow him to cause chaos across Ravnican society the way that the Orzhov and Azorius do, so they can't be his white guilds. The Simic and the Dimir don't have the necessary technology to transport different things across planes, nor do they allow him the intellectual control over Ravnica that the Izzet and Azorius do, so they can't really work into his plan either. The Dimir and the Rakdos both do have skilled assassins, but neither of them can attain the possibility of killing guild leaders AND controlling the crime of Ravnica like the Golgari and Orzhov do, so they can't be his black guilds.

The Boros and the Rakdos can cause damage with violence, but not necessarily in the way that the Gruul can with intense raids or the way the Izzet can by creating bombs, so they really can't be the red guilds he'd use.

The Selesnya and Simic may be able to augment armies through number or strength respectively, but the Gruul and Golgari can do that as well and provide ways around Ravnica unseen either through the Wilds of Ravnica or through the Undercity. As well, both act as guerilla groups rather than normal fighting armies, creating more chaos. Frankly, neither Selesnya nor Simic could be the green guilds.

Also, it's hard to believe any of the non-Bolas guilds in my writing could fall to Bolas. The Dimir are masterminds of information gathering, they could see through Bolas pretty quickly honestly. The Selesnya are too connected to Mat'Selesnya to answer to any other being. The Boros are loyal to a fault and built on an ideology of virtue and bravery. The Rakdos only answer to their guild leader and pretty much kill any who don't support him. And finally, the Simic are too wary of outsiders to let an unknown planeswalker join their fray.

September 12, 2018 1:31 a.m.

dbpunk says... #8

@lehovah that's also another thing. They're may be agents of Bolas in every guild, and those who oppose him in every guild as well.

September 12, 2018 1:33 a.m.

MindAblaze says... #9

I like the symmetry of the colours on both sides. It makes too much sense.

September 12, 2018 2:11 a.m.

ZendikariWol says... #10

Thank you, dbpunk, for being right before I came here. Now time for me to throw in my two cents.

I think the guilds Bolas is going to control are: Izzet, Golgari (obviously), Orzhov, Azorius, and Gruul. Here's why.

There are two main factors Bolas will probably consider before taking the guilds; their moral ambiguity and how easy they are to manipulate.

Boros: Famously stubborn, strong-willed fighters for justice. Falls under 0 of those categories.

Selesnya: Caring, loving, live-and-let-live people who are known for their strong moral compass and devotion to helping people, especially their guild. It would take far too long to lead them astray, as any rapid change toward evil would shock the guild's people.

Dimir: They are the manipulators. They would 100% double-cross Bolas and damn does he know it.

Golgari: They only really care about the earth. They see people as tiny, a miniscule part of the circle of life. Not only that but he has a high-ranking guild member under his control.

Izzet: Scientists who do shit cuz it's fun. Bolas can just give them a toy he doesn't want to take the time to mess with and tada! They'll basically do whatever he wants. They're also too busy doing whatever they possibly can with machinery, they never question the morality of it.

Simic: This guild has a different reason that Bolas doesn't want them. The Golgari HATE these guys. And these guys look down on the Golgari. It's as simple as that.

Rakdos: What would Bolas want with suicidal minions? More importantly, what does Bolas have on them? Nothing. He can't threaten them, they're a bunch of masochists. He can't rely on them not to kill his other minions because all they do is kill. In short, bad choice.

Azorius: Uncaring defenders of the law, whatever that law may be. Losing their leader, Bolas could instate a new one and suddenly the laws they're enforcing might not be the most just. But they'd still enforce, blindly trusting in their guild.

Gruul: They want to watch the world burn. Sure, AFTER the fray they're gonna try to kill all the Azorius and the Orzhov but they will wait, with the right leadership, until after the fray.

Orzhov: A literally church of money. THE MOST morally ambiguous AND easy-to-manipulate thing on all of Ravnica, I'd say. Sure they'd be plotting against him, but Dimir they are not. Bolas would find out every time and slaughter the perpetrators.

Holy shit this was long. Sorry folks....

September 12, 2018 8:51 a.m.

greyninja says... #11

I'll be sad to see the Orzhov fall to Bolas. I really liked the Teysa stories; she seems to have her head and heart in the right place

September 12, 2018 10:04 a.m.

MindAblaze says... #12

Last we heard weren’t Teysa and Tajic facing judgment from the Obzedat?

September 12, 2018 12:52 p.m.

Iehovah says... #13

So this card was previewed today Trostani discordant I think this solidifies my theory that bolas is influencing all the guilds

September 14, 2018 1:27 p.m.

greyninja says... #14

Maybe all the mythic rare legends are under Bolas' influence (?)

September 14, 2018 2:08 p.m.

M_Malcom says... #15

As far as I’m concerned the golgari, orzhov, rakdos, gruul and now azorius all have a kind of king of the hill system of leadership. If this is any parallel of human history then I would think there would be a “Night of the Long Knives” Situation where bolas would kill the victors of the infighting and assume control. The only thing standing in his way is the guildpact. This would most likely lead to an ultimatum at the end of the second act of “etheir you you come out with your hands up or I’m going in.” At any rate I feel this is building to a slaughter of people you like. This is one of the oldest writing cliché. Seen in GoT, marvel and even Star Wars. An “unexpected” death is a huge draw and if done correctly can sell there books and their cards.

September 16, 2018 12:46 a.m.

Please login to comment